There is a lot of talk these days about solo travel and how important it is to travel on your own at least once in your life. This is usually followed up with tips and tricks (and even entire blogs) about how to achieve the perfect solo trip. And it’s great! I think it’s really important for women (and men) to feel safe and empowered to travel and see the world on their own. Sometimes it’s quicker to just go on your own rather than waiting forever for others to join your trip. But personally, I prefer traveling with others. I enjoy making memories and sharing experiences with the people I love. I typically travel with either my family, my boyfriend, or a wonderful group of girls I met while studying abroad in London.
However, traveling in a group definitely presents its own set of challenges. It is normal for people to want to see and do different things. And travel time is usually limited which makes it difficult to do everything. So how do you deal with this? Here are five tips from my experiences traveling in a group:
1. Have a Plan.
It’s a good idea to have a general plan for your trip so expectations are set ahead of time. My friends and I created a shared Google doc when we planned our reunion to Europe last fall. It was an easy way for all of us to stay up-to-date. We included our flight and lodging information, added ideas for restaurants and places we wanted to visit, and included other important tips we wanted to keep for easy reference. It worked wonderfully! Before arriving in London we knew exactly what each of us wanted to accomplish during the trip. Of course we didn’t stick to everything we listed in the doc, but it was a good guideline for how to organize our itinerary.
As soon as you have at least two people involved in a trip you will need to compromise. From picking a neighborhood to stay to deciding whether you should take a taxi or a train to dinner–compromise is key. There are plenty of ways to make everyone happy when traveling. For example, instead of eating out at a restaurant you can head to outdoor markets or food trucks instead. That way everyone can choose exactly what they want to eat. My friends and I love doing that when traveling! Plus it’s much easier than trying to get a reservation for a large group.
3. Don’t be afraid to split up.
It’s okay if people want to do different things–not everyone has the same interests. An easy way to fix this is to pair off with another person or do something solo, and then set up a meeting time and place to regroup for the rest of the day. That way everyone stays happy–win win!
4. Be Courteous.
When traveling in a larger group it is important to be aware of your surroundings. Visiting other countries is a great way to be exposed to other cultures, but it is crucial to understand cultural norms. For example, people generally don’t talk to one another while riding the tube in London. So when traveling in a group, it’s better to try and stay quiet and be respectful of other passengers. Another thing to be conscience of is personal space (i.e. Americans tend to take up a lot of personal space when walking down streets or sidewalks in Europe.) Remember, foreign countries aren’t there to make you feel comfortable, but their own people comfortable. It is a good idea to adapt your norms, if necessary, when traveling to be respectful.
5. Do things you normally wouldn’t do on your own.
It’s not every day you get to travel with people you love. Traveling with others teaches you a lot about them. (You know how they say don’t marry someone until you’ve taken a road trip together?) As I mentioned earlier, you won’t always have the same interests and while it’s important to do what you want, it’s also good to stay open minded! Hear what your fellow traveler wants to see or do and consider whether you would be open to trying it or not. Traveling is meant to put you outside your comfort zone and make memories.
One example of this happened when I was in Vegas recently with a group of friends. After spending time in the New York New York casino, the group decided they wanted to ride the roller coaster outside. I am really scared of roller coasters and it had been a few years since I was last on one. I immediately got that nervous pit in my stomach and almost turned to my boyfriend to tell him I would sit this one out. But I decided to suck it up and go on it, and guess what? It was one of my favorite memories from that trip!